Shakespeare used the idiom “But in the end, truth will come out.” The apropos title of this book, Legacy, is based on a true story. This is a historical novel based on the life of Mary Fisher. Born in a slave shack in 1871 to a black mother while amid flooding and a malaria epidemic, the heroine of the story was the daughter of the widower plantation owner. Severe flooding and a yellow fever depredation left her with only an older half sister, Emerald, and her father, Colonel Gallager, who named her Felice in the story.
Raised as daddy’s little princess, she had an idyllic childhood. Though her father died when she was a teenager, he had arranged for her to attend a Catholic boarding school in New Orleans. There she acquired a proper education and mastered the social graces. After graduating, she remained at school since she had no place to return.
Stunningly beautiful, Felice worked as a governess to relatives of the Louisiana governor for a time. After a disappointing first love affair, she matured to become an adult, a passed-for-white madam of a bordello in New Orleans. Under Jim Crow laws, it was illegal for black women to even be present in such an establishment, much less own one.
By the roaring twenties, a few Corpus Christi community leaders decided that the only thing missing from their fair Gulf Coast city was a first-class bordello. The gentlemen went to New Orleans, where they asked the real Mary Fisher to relocate her operation. She realized the value of protection and benefits that these men could provide and took them up on their offer. After decades in business and retirement at age seventy-five with abundant jewelry, cash, and rental property, the woman was murdered. The story evolves into a true crime mystery with an unexpected ending.